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Voting by mail is an Oregon tradition

Recently on NextDoor people have expressed concerned regarding Vote by Mail (VBM) security as promulgated by Donald Trump, so I thought I’d take a moment to address them here.

VBM has been employed continuously in Oregon since 1998. Oregon knows how to do this and none of the efforts to remove sorters or USPS drop boxes will affect us.

For any who think ballots can mysteriously vanish, know this: To pick up ballots at drop boxes, both a Democrat and Republican must travel in the vehicle together. They count ballots removed from the drop box, together, and both sign a form verifying the count. Ballots are delivered straight to the clerk’s office where the count is verified again. There is simply no opportunity for any ballots to be lost in transit.

Jackson County Clerk, Chris Walker is a consummate professional who works closely with the post office, the Library District and local Community Service Officers to ensure nonpartisan, transparent and secure voting in JackCo. We’re on solid footing here.

Recently, the Library District Board of Directors raised the concern that voters may be questioning USPS’s ability to deliver ballots in a timely fashion. To assuage those fears, real or not, the board requested we contact Jackson County Elections and offer a second Medford drop box at the library.

Last Friday, I called Chris Walker to broach the idea. As always, Chris was extraordinarily upbeat and collaborative in tone. The challenge with placing a second drop box, she explained, was one of timing as it would need to be included in the voters’ pamphlet before it went to print, just weeks from now. Underscoring that challenge, she said, were three obstacles: 1) The location must have a cement slab for bolting the drop box; 2) It should not be located where it could impede traffic; and 3) It had to have a surveillance camera.

“Oh, we also need to be sure there is a MOU [memorandum of understanding] between the District and County for voter drop boxes” she added. Coincidentally, this hurdle was met in August when the Library Board signed a MOU with the county authorizing continued use of ballot drop boxes at library locations.

I suggested the parking lot behind the library and noted that a bench was recently removed leaving an empty cement slab, and depending on ingress/ egress, street traffic should not be affected. Finally I assured her that surveillance cameras were already in place.

“I’ll go by there right now and check it out,” Chris said, and she did just that. That was Friday at 4:00.

By 2:00 PM on Monday, Library Director Kari May and I received a text from Chris Walker that she requested county facilities to place a ballot box behind the Medford Library.

Chris Walker and her staff have got this. It’s up to us to vote.

Cathy Shaw of Ashland is president of the Jackson County Library District Board of Directors.

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